Anyone who is familiar with my newsletter knows that I’m a big fan of keeping things ultra simple. Most of my connections on LinkedIn are C-suite executives like me who value the briefest explanation possible.
So here is a quick overview of 3 guiding principles that will get you the most visibility on Google. It’s what’s we teach in our digital marketing courses as the 3 pillars of SEO.
What if you have a severe headache and you want to see what remedy Google can give you? So you type “best home headache remedy.” Now let’s pretend you get a page of results for home head cold remedies? Sure, the words are similar, but you’d be irritated (even more so because your head is hurting!) that Google isn’t giving you something that is…yes, you guessed it…RELEVANT to your search or your needs.
So Google prioritizes results that they feel are relevant to the searcher’s “intent” (in other words, what they really want, regardless of what words they use). Google has gotten pretty good at this over the years, by the way.
Relevance is determined by how well you write the content on your page. It has to be good quality, and structured the way Google wants to see it. We call this “content marketing.”
Also, you might want to do something called “on page optimization,” which goes a bit further in creating a relevant page.
Ok, so let’s stick with our headache example. Let’s say that you get a bunch of results that really do seem to be relevant to home headache remedies, but when you visit the pages you see that they are from very questionable sites. They might be full of ads, or perhaps they link you to dangerous and pornographic corners of the Internet. Well if you’re like me, you would also think that the search results were poor.
Knowing this, Google tries to show you websites that are authoritative to avoid getting you justly irritated. How do they do that?
Google has very sophisticated ways of looking at a given website and the sites that are linking TO that website. If your website is linked to by other websites that are high quality, with lots of sites linking to them, and (this bit is important) if the sites that are linking to your site have something to do with the subject of the page, then it helps you appear to have authority.
Getting more Authority is usually based on creating useful content that webmasters, online journalists and bloggers want to link to, along with outreach to make those people aware of it. We call that “link building,” although you can also think of it as link “earning.”
Ok, finally we come to the toughest bit of this. And here’s where having someone working for you, whether a contractor or an employee, who knows the technology of SEO and how Google works is extremely important.
To determine if your site is relevant and authoritative, Google needs to “crawl” all over your website with their analytical programs (a part of the mechanics of this is those programs that SEOs call “spiders” or “bots” or “crawlers” … although that’s only part of it). There are all sorts of things you can do to a website (usually accidentally) to make it confusing to Google. If you want Google to give you the best results, they need to easily understand your site. We call this “Search Engine Friendliness,” or SEF. This is not the same as SEO, but you can’t have S E O without S E F.
How do You Know if You’re Getting the Best SEO?
If you are working with an SEO company, or even in-house staff, make sure they can explain each of these three pillars of SEO to you and how they are addressing them. If they struggle to give you an explanation you, as an executive, can understand, then they probably don’t understand it themselves.
And while we’re adjacent to the subject of how to hire an SEO, here’s a video from former Googler Maile Ohye about “how to hire an SEO” that is as useful today as it was in 2017.
More Tips Like This Are Coming to You Soon!
The above explanation and tips come from my soon-to-be-published book, The CFO’s Guide to Demystifying Internet Marketing. The complete book addresses a need I’ve been aware of for years in business, especially for my colleagues who are extremely busy executives: a resource that can bridge the gap between the marketing department, the tech people, and the C-Suite. And don’t let “CFO” in the title fool you, any busy executive can get tremendous benefit.
Roy Nakamura is the founder and CEO of Horizon Web Marketing. Before becoming an Entrepreneur, Roy spent 25 years in Silicon Valley corporate finance, holding the position of CFO with multi-national corporations. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with an MBA in finance and also has passed the CPA exam. Additionally, Roy holds a BS in engineering and a Masters degree in journalism, and has board-level experience with United Way and Financial Executives International. In 2008 Roy was named “Business Person of the Year” by the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce.